Monday, September 15, 2008

Scared Straight

P candidate McCain didn't have a good weekend, media-wise. More of his campaign's lies were exposed by major newspapers and news services, including a whole list of them in this story. Paul Krugman had already concluded, in his column titled "A Blizzard of Lies," that "the Obama campaign is wrong to suggest that a McCain-Palin administration would just be a continuation of Bush-Cheney. If the way John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning is any indication, it would be much, much worse." Notice that word: lies. These folks usually stay away from it. Now it's becoming the buzz.

VP candidate Palin had an even worse weekend. There were major--and I do mean major--exposes of her time as governor of Alaska (in the NY Times) and mayor of Wasilla (in the Washington Post.)

Perhaps the most devastating critique of the McCain-Palin ticket came in a column by Frank Rich: " A week ago the question was: Is Sarah Palin qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency? The question today: What kind of president would Sarah Palin be? It’s an urgent matter, because if we’ve learned anything from the G.O.P. convention and its aftermath, it’s that the 2008 edition of John McCain is too weak to serve as America’s chief executive. This unmentionable truth, more than race, is now the real elephant in the room of this election."

But all this means little unless there is evidence that it is making a difference in how voters view this election. That may come in the next few days--the most recent tracking polls show McCain's progress stopped and Obama gaining a bit. We'll soon see if this is a viable trend, although it looks like a stock market crash on Monday may also get a little attention and throw yet another wild card into the mix.

But what I see and sense, both online and in person, is that all this has reached one part of the electorate with major force: the people who are suddenly scared to death by the prospect of McCain-Palin.

They're coming out to cheer Obama in New Hampshire with new fervor, and they're contributing money to the Obama campaign. New 527 groups are gearing up, and there looks like a new urgency for Obama. People who loved him but were laying back, figuring this was a done deal, are getting up out of the chair. People who aren't sure they are that enamoured with him are looking at the alternative, and getting scared straight.

Add them to the 2.5 million Obama contributors, the half million who joined up just in August to break all records for campaign contributions by a healthy 11 million bucks (for an August total of $66m). And this was before VP candidate Palin. Among the new activists, about a thousand women demonstrating against Palin in Alaska.

So watch for more evidence of this in the coming week. VP candidate Palin may have galvanized some of the GOPer base, but she has also scared a lot of other people straight to Obama.

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